Responsibility as a manufacturer
The KION Group is aware of its responsibility as a manufacturer, and adheres rigorously to product and operational environmental regulations. A key task in this regard, and one which is also a constant challenge, is substituting chemical substances that may be harmful to humans or may have an adverse effect on the environment. In the past, the Company already initiated a range of activities aimed at replacing hazardous substances in the product process and sales products. Among them, in 2016 the KION Group committed itself to eliminating components that are manufactured using chromium VI. The structural conversion of the components, such as the modification of technical drawings and specifications, has since been largely completed. Now comes the process of technical conversion, whereby the occasional shortage of parts availability in the market represents a challenge. At the same time, by the end of 2018 the KION Group aims to increase transparency regarding which substances and mixtures it uses across the Group.
Safety and ergonomics
The safe, ergonomic operation of all KION Group products has always been a focus of KION’s product development activities, especially in the Industrial Trucks & Services segment. Operators are always the focus of these considerations, with all operating elements adapted to suit their requirements – with active and passive safety systems offering maximum safety and helping to prevent accident risks.
In 2017 the product responsibility action field was defined across the Group. Its overarching objective is clear: all products must comply with the laws and regulations in the respective countries. Work is currently underway to define appropriate KPIs, with Linde Material Handling’s activities from previous years serving as the model. As part of the product development process, all KION Group products are tested for their health and safety impacts in accordance with legal requirements.
In the reporting year the Company was not notified of any instances or significant fines owing to non-compliance with laws and regulations concerning the supply and use of products and services, or their impact on health and safety.
Safety on board
The KION Group’s industrial trucks must meet the ISO 3691 standard, which regulates the safety requirements for these vehicles. But the Company goes far beyond these requirements. Numerous tests and trials with KION Group trucks are designed to ensure maximum safety for operators and the environment. Besides procedures such as the simulation of different driving conditions, or load tests in which weights are dropped onto the roof of the truck, KION also employs in-house developed test methods in the product development process. In some cases these go far beyond the requirements set out in the relevant standards.
Another focus of the KION Group’s and its operating units’ safety activities is providing operator support through the use of assistance systems. In this regard, another milestone was achieved in the reporting year with the further development of the Linde Safety Pilot (LSP) system: this driver assistance system largely prevents the tipping of counterbalanced forklift trucks, thereby reducing human error during operation to the greatest extent possible. Linde launched a similar system at the start of 2017 for its pallet stackers, called Linde Load Management. The developments continue, and Linde Material Handling EMEA plans to roll out additional safety features in 2018.
To supplement its portfolio of safety solutions, Linde Material Handling GmbH acquired the start-up Comnovo in the reporting period. The company specialises in vehicle tracking using ultra-wideband (UWB) wireless technology and holds various patents in this area. It offers a range of systems that actively minimise accident risks when utilising industrial trucks. It also plans to apply this technology to future tracking applications.
At STILL EMEA, active and passive truck safety systems also take top priority. By selecting various safety packages, trucks can be adapted to suit specific customer requirements: the equipment range covers everything from warning lights, panoramic mirrors and additional headlights, to load protection grilles, overhead guard frame grilles and an assistance system for steering-angle dependent speed restriction. The latest example is the STILL SafetyLight 4Plus. Here, a blue LED projects a spot of light onto the ground in front of the vehicle signalling to others in the vicinity that a vehicle is approaching, thereby preventing a collision.
The STILL assistance systems OPTISPEED 4.0 and OPTISAFE assist the driver in certain driving situations. OPTISPEED 4.0 is a navigational aid for close quarters and provides the driver with a precise, semi-automated approach to the desired position. With OPTISAFE, special conditions such as height limits or the need for braking can be individually programmed for each separate aisle.
When developing Dematic’s innovative logistics solutions, the specialists also take into account core safety aspects. Whether palletising or storage and retrieval systems, the operators’ safety concerns are always in focus. Process optimisations and safety considerations go hand-in-hand, with smart control software not only increasing efficiency but also helping to minimise risks – such as through optimised coordination and control, and therefore through avoiding hazardous situations. And even after installation of the supply chain solution, Dematic supports customers if they have any safety optimisation concerns.
In the reporting year Dematic made further progress in terms of product safety. Among its achievements, the Mini Load and Unit Load storage and retrieval systems were migrated to the new TIA control platform, with the hardware converted to PROFIsafe technology. This guarantees higher safety standards, while customers benefit from increased performance and safety.
Ergonomic operation – focusing on the person
Anyone who drives an industrial truck the whole day appreciates good ergonomic controls that minimise the stresses and strain of operation on the driver. This is another area where the KION Group sets standards with its products. Trucks, safety equipment, fleet-management software and service solutions – everything is focused on the perfect interaction between operator and machine.
The ergonomic design of industrial trucks, and in particular driver cabs, is a core element of both brands’ philosophy, which is underscored by the long tradition of the Linde and STILL brands. Linde developed the hydrostatic drive over 50 years ago. It allows intuitive control of the truck, and among other things offers gentle acceleration and braking. Linde industrial trucks still use this technology, which is also the basis for the brand’s distinctive twin drive pedals that offer nimble, responsive and safe control of Linde trucks. The same applies to STILL trucks, in which the driver can adjust the driving behaviour individually depending on the task at hand.
Human body vibration in the spotlight
A particular emphasis of the operating units in the ITS segment place is on reducing human body vibration – mechanical oscillations and vibrations to which the drivers and operators of forklift trucks and warehouse technology are exposed during the course of their everyday work. Even when some individual vibrations are hardly noticeable, in sum they are a considerable burden on operators.
This is why Linde Material Handling has worked hard for over 20 years now on researching and developing technologies to deliver effective protection against these impacts on operators. And it has done so with great success: Linde products not only fall well within legal limits, Linde trucks also regularly outperform the competition in independent tests. In this area too, the Company made progress in the reporting period, with the design of the operator cockpit platforms of the new Linde T20 SP low lift pallet truck and the P60 tow tractor achieving even lower vibration values, as they decouple the operator from the vehicle. And with additional adjustment options, the vehicles now offer even greater ergonomic comfort. Both products will be launched in 2018.
STILL EMEA developed its own rigorous test methods to put new ergonomic comfort technologies through their paces on special test tracks. The vibration load on the driver can be optimally reduced by means of a floating cab mounted on the truck frame, or longitudinal horizontal damping under the seat.
Dematic intralogistic solutions also help to reduce workflow activities that have a particularly adverse ergonomic impact while making the working day safer and healthier – through process optimisations that reduce the number of steps required to perform a task and therefore reduce the number of manual processes required. The goal is to always relieve as much strain on the order-picker as possible. Systems such as the AMCAP automated mixed case palletising system and the RapidPick XT robotic picking system go further still, requiring no operators at all.